The Student Services and Administration Building currently under construction at Santa Monica College has been recognized by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Touted by college officials as an energy-efficient, futuristic structure, the unfinished project has received the institute’s NEXT LA award in the educational category.

The $53.5 million project is designed to consolidate various student services currently scattered throughout the main campus, beautify the Pico Boulevard frontage, and provide an important connection between the Santa Monica community and its college, officials said. Steinberg Architects in Los Angeles designed the project.

“The project faced two challenges: co-locate more than 30 student services-related departments and administrative offices and create an iconic design that will announce the college to the public,” Steinberg said in its awards entry materials. “Utilizing a bold vernacular reminiscent of modern transportation hubs, the final design creates a place of welcome for new students and symbolizes open access to education.”

In addition to the building, the project – located on the northeast quadrant of the SMC main campus at 1900 Pico Blvd. – includes an entry plaza, a 500-space underground parking garage, landscaping, and a proposed public transit bus pull-out.

Construction began in January 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in February 2014. Funding for the project comes from Measure U, a bond approved by Santa Monica-Malibu voters in 2004.

The building’s design creates a continuous shell structure that integrates photovoltaic solar panels and operable windows and skylights. It is also anticipated to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.

College officials say the consolidation of all major student services into one location will improve the outreach and access of all services available to SMC students while providing an efficiency of common shared spaces.

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